On Sunday 30 October, during a solemn religious ceremony promoted by the Tunisian head of state and in the presence of the prime minister and the minister for religious affairs, I had the privilege of receiving a prize directly from the president of the republic, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, as the winner of the World Competition for Islamic Studies for the publication of my book entitled “L'Islam in Europa. Riflessioni di un imam italiano” (Islam in Europe. The reflections of an Italian imam) (Il Saggiatore, Milan, 2004, forewords by Rocco Buttiglione and Amos Luzzatto). This honour, awarded in 2003 to Professor Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq, the present minister of religious affairs in the Arab Republic of Egypt and, in 2004, to Professor Muhammad El Habib Belkhodja, eminent head of the OCI and emeritus mufti of Tunisia, this year takes on a particular symbolic importance for both the Islamic world and the West. President Ben Ali wished, in fact, to award the prize to Œan Italian citizen of Muslim faith whose intellectual work is an example of open-mindedness, moderation and renovation of Islamic thought and he invited me to take on the role Œof a driving force and not just that of an intercultural and ecumenical mediator. I trust that this institutional recognition, which has aroused exceptional interest in the Arab world, may contribute further to consolidating the basis of competent representation of the interests of Islam in our country and allow Muslims in Italy to assume the role of ambassadors of the universal values that we would like all the peoples of the world to enjoy.
Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini
Vice President CO.RE.IS. (Comunità Religiosa Islamica) Italiana
Via Giuseppe Meda, 9 - 20136 Milano
tel (+39) 02 8393340 fax (+39) 02 8393350